10 Product Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them

10 Product Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them (copy) cover

With how broad the scope of product management is, it should come as no surprise that there are a wide variety of product management challenges that one might encounter. This guide will walk product managers through the 10 most common challenges and how to overcome them!


  • The are countless issues that product managers could run into but the most common product management challenges you may encounter include:
  1. Product roadmap prioritization. Balancing competing demands, limited resources, and rising user expectations make prioritization difficult. Creating flexible roadmaps, weighing trade-offs, and aligning goals can help you overcome these prioritization challenges.
  2. Reliance on engineering resources. Product managers and their teams tend to become overreliant on engineering resources. The only way to overcome this is to improve collaboration between product and engineering teams to optimize resource allocation.
  3. Balance responsibilities for product managers. Balancing the workload and responsibilities of each team member can be a difficult undertaking for product managers. The best way to overcome this is through SOPs that clarify “who’s doing what”.
  4. Communication across the product team. Poor communication within the product team can lead to the formation of data silos. Centralizing team communication on a single platform like Slack is the easiest way to prevent the occurrence of data silos.
  5. Training for cross-functional teams. Training cross-functional teams can be difficult due to misaligned goals, clashing methodologies, and communication gaps. Gradually aligning goals over time is the only way to overcome this challenge.
  6. Staying updated with technology. Staying up to date with emerging tech can be another challenge that product managers face. Overcoming this is a matter of setting aside time for continuous learning and conferences or workshops.
  7. Product adoption and onboarding. Product adoption and onboarding are challenges that also fall under the purview of product managers. Personalized onboarding, interactive guidance, feedback collection, and behavioral monitoring help overcome this.
  8. Ensuring product-market fit over time. Maintaining product-market fit over time is an ongoing challenge for product managers. Regular evaluations through customer research and feedback can mitigate this challenge by tracking how sentiment evolves.
  9. User data analytics and management. Extracting actionable insights from user data is an analytical challenge for product managers. Creating data management protocols and using product analytics tools can help PMs deal with this challenge.
  10. Collecting customer feedback for satisfaction input. The final challenge is collecting accurate customer feedback. Switching from email surveys to in-app surveys can make things easier for product managers by virtue of having higher response rates.
  • Some challenges like maintaining product-market fit, keeping up with emerging technologies, and training cross-functional teams will require continuous efforts to overcome rather than a one-time solution.
  • Facilitating open lines of communication will align goals across teams and create a culture of collaboration that will proactively solve — or at least mitigate — many of the challenges listed above.
  • Product managers need to utilize their access to both sides of the equation — customers and product — to push key initiatives like onboarding or adoption forward without creating new challenges as a result.
  • If you want to increase adoption, streamline onboarding, track analytics, and collect feedback then it’s time to get your free Userpilot demo today!

Top 10 product management challenges

Broadly speaking, a product manager is someone who needs to identify the needs of your customers and align them with the overarching business objectives to create a product that satisfies both sides of the transaction.

As such, problems can include themes like:

We’ll go over these problems (and the solution to each one) in the sections below!

Product roadmap prioritization

Figuring out which features or projects to prioritize on a product roadmap can be exceedingly challenging for a few reasons such as:

  • Competing demands
  • Limited resources
  • User expectations

This balancing act between what the business needs, what the users want, and limited resources to fulfill both of them is a common but incredibly difficult situation to navigate. For example, your users may want advanced analytics while your competitors are using AI capabilities to get ahead of you.

How to overcome this?

There are a few ways you can overcome prioritization challenges like this:

  • Flexible roadmaps. Ensuring your roadmap is flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions is essential. If you tunnel vision on a specific feature just because you planned it last year or competitors are pushing it now, you may lose track of what customers actually want.
  • Trade-off analysis. Evaluating the trade-offs between each decision will help you figure out which features or projects you should be prioritizing. This won’t be a complete solution but, at the very least, it will reframe the problem around choosing the best outcome to aim for.
  • Goal alignment. Aligning short-term product management decisions with longer-term strategic goals will help you expand your time horizon for what’s truly important. Looking at the bigger picture in this way makes it easier to identify which efforts truly result in customer value.

Reliance on engineering resources

It’s no secret that product managers — and the product team in general — can easily become overreliant on engineering resources. This often leads to bottlenecks, delays, and unforeseen challenges throughout the product development process.

How to overcome this?

The only way to overcome this overreliance is to improve the quality of collaboration between the product and engineering teams. Having open lines of communication will provide a shared understanding of strategy, priorities, and challenges across both teams.

This, in turn, ensures that there are no surprises on either end or rifts that grow over time.

One example would be how we at Userpilot send our product newsletter to everyone. This ensures that everyone is in the loop on the latest product changes, progress updates, and upcoming features so that we can all stay on the same page.

Another tactic worth trying would be adopting agile methodologies to help both teams adjust rapidly.

Balance responsibilities for product managers

Another one of the product manager’s challenges that you’ll come across at most companies is managing workload. This boils down to balancing the myriad of responsibilities and priorities of a product manager.

How to overcome this?

The fastest path to balance is standardization.

Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) that clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member will optimize the workload distribution. This ensures that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and no single team member is tasked with too much or too little.

Product management challenges in operation
Key positions in product teams.

You can also use project management tools like Asana, Monday, or Notion to assign/prioritize tasks.

Communication across the product team

Data silos are information that’s controlled by one business unit and isolated from the rest of the department or organization. These often manifest within product teams because of how siloed individual teams can become if there’s a lack of inter-department or cross-department communication.

How to overcome this?

Using a centralized team communication platform like Slack is the first step towards fostering open collaboration and seamless information sharing across the entire product team. Everyone using the same platform will also make it easier to conduct impromptu team meetings as needed.

To take things a step further, you can create communication channels that are specific to each aspect of a particular project. This will ensure that those in charge are able to monitor progress across different teams and features.

Slack product team communication channels
Source: Slack.

Training for cross-functional teams

Training cross-functional teams can be a Herculean task since it requires that everyone has an equal understanding of product-related processes, company goals, and their respective roles to help achieve those goals.

This can lead to problems like:

  • Misalignment of goals
  • Clashing methodologies
  • Communication gaps

One example of a communication gap would be a product marketing team not knowing enough about new features due to a lack of product release training. This could result in marketing campaigns that misrepresent the product or advertise inaccurate information to potential customers.

How to overcome this?

Of all the product manager challenges, this is one of the issues that can take the longest to solve.

This is because it usually requires long-term endeavors to remedy sweeping problems like goal misalignment or different methodologies being used. Hosting a monthly workshop and repurposing meeting recordings as training materials are a good place to start.

product management challenges in training
Source: Google Calendar.

On longer timescales, you should be working towards creating a culture of ongoing learning and personal development. This could entail creating channels for information sharing, distributing product updates, and learning from one another (even from those in different departments).

Stay updated with technology

There are some cases where the product team’s tech-savvy is not on par with the engineering team — and the product strategy lags behind as a result. This may happen organically because the engineering team spends more time with the back-end technology.

How to overcome this?

To help your product team make informed decisions and keep the product competitive against alternatives on the market, it’s essential that you promote continuous learning. This will include regular training sessions, industry conferences, and technology workshops.

Product managers should also be on the lookout for emerging technologies which may mean dedicating time in their calendar to conduct industry research. Lastly, you can collect product feedback from customers to see if your platform struggling to compete with cutting-edge alternatives.

Product adoption and onboarding

Ensuring smooth onboarding flows and successful product adoption is often thought of as a customer success initiative. However, the product team also has enough context on the product and customer insights to be a major contributor to these efforts.

How to overcome this?

There are a few tactics that product managers can deploy to improve adoption and onboarding:

product management challenges in onboarding
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  • Interactive guidance. Using interactive guidance — like in-app flows and UI patterns — to show customers how a product works or highlight new features can drive engagement rates up.
  • Feedback collection. Periodically gathering feedback from customers through in-app surveys will give you a better understanding of the customer satisfaction hurdles that must be overcome.
  • Behavioral monitoring. Monitoring user behavior (using behavioral analytics dashboards) will help you make real-time adjustments to onboarding strategies and see those metrics change.
Userpilot feature engagement analytics dashboard
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Ensure product-market fit over time

Product-market fit (PMF) isn’t a one-and-done deal. In reality, it requires constant evaluation to maintain product-market fit and successfully adapt to the ever-changing customer expectations within your target market.

How to overcome this?

Regularly measuring your PMF level using PMF surveys will help you iterate based on feedback to ensure your product keeps up with the new needs of your user base:

Userpilot product-market fit (PMF) survey
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You’ll also need to conduct regular market research to identify trends and analyze competitors.

User data analytics and management

Another reason product management can be so difficult is the process of extracting actionable insights from user data and managing these insights to ensure they’re applied properly. This is especially challenging when working with large datasets or so-called “big data.”

How to overcome this?

The first step to overcoming this issue is to establish a clear data management protocol for how information is collected, analyzed, stored, and distributed. You can even use a product analytics tool to build analytics charts.

For instance, Userpilot lets you conduct cohort analysis by setting the initial event (where the retention period begins) and seeing how retention rates beyond that point vary by cohort. You’ll be able to choose which event to track and set the timeframe based on your analytics needs:

Userpilot retention table dashboard
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You can also leverage this user behavioral data to see how customer retention changes over time. If newer cohorts have higher retention rates than older cohorts, then that would indicate that the latest iterations of your product are having a positive impact — and vice versa.

Collect customer feedback for satisfaction input

The last challenge product managers face (within the scope of this guide) is collecting customer feedback. It can be hard to reach users quickly enough to get accurate feedback — or even receive any response at all.

How to overcome this?

Thankfully, this is an easy fix if you shift your efforts towards in-app surveys instead of email surveys. Gathering feedback within the product itself will give users the chance to respond while using the product which results in more accurate insights and higher response rates.

This will create a feedback loop that allows you to collect recurring feedback from those using your product. You can also use a feedback collection tool to streamline this process. For example, you can use Userpilot to create no-code customer experience surveys:

Userpilot customer experience survey
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As you can see, there are plenty of challenges that will keep modern product teams busy. There’s also a value complexity matrix to consider since some of the simpler tasks could actually provide more value for a business — so-called “easy wins.”

If you want to make the biggest impact on your product management metrics by engaging your users within the product itself, it’s time to get your free Userpilot demo today!

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